18 Things to Know Before Renting a Car in Faro Portugal (2023)

Thinking of renting a car in Faro? Look no further!

Driving in Portugal is very easy but there are a few things you should know to have a worry-free relaxed trip.

In this post, I will share everything you must know about renting a car and driving in Faro Portugal.

Faro is a cute touristy town in the popular Algarve region.

You will immediately fall in love with the small and intimate city of Faro once you see its historic architecture complemented by gorgeous beaches, and its delicious cuisine is just the cherry on top.

Although you won’t need a car to enjoy the town, a car is highly recommended if you will want to visit all the other amazing attractions in the Algarve, especially the beaches.

Therefore I have put together a list of some things you should know before doing so. Keep on reading and I will tell you about them all in this post.

Faro Portugal overview
Faro, Portugal – Photo from Canva

Table of Contents

Things to Know Before Renting a Car in Faro

1. Bring your legal documents

Legal documents are a must no matter where you’re renting a car, so it won’t be any different in Faro as well.

Make sure you have the required documents ready and on you when you rent a car in Faro. At the very least, you will need the following three.

📌 ID/Passport

You will need an ID with your photo on it or a passport to rent a car in Faro. Make sure you also keep it handy when driving your rental car on the roads of Faro.

📌 Driver’s license

A driver’s license (usually at least a year or two old) is required by all the rental companies in Faro Portugal when you’re hiring a car from them.

If you’re staying in Faro for less than a year, you can use your US-issued driver’s license.

European and Canadian licenses are accepted as well. If you’re coming from anywhere else, check Portugal’s license requirements specific to your country.

📌 Credit card

You will also need your credit card to rent a car in Faro. Car hire companies ask for one to make sure all their costs will be covered by the deposit you make while booking.

Make sure you bring your own credit card, and it’s from an international issuer like Visa or Mastercard.

You can also use a debit card with enough funds in your account, but rentals mostly prefer credit cards, so check with them first.

pedestrian area in Faro
Pedestrian area in Faro – Photo from Canva

2. Age eligibility

The legal age to drive in Portugal is 18, but Faro car rentals have their own age requirements as well.

This requirement varies from rental to rental; some don’t rent to people under 21, while others charge extra fees for drivers younger than 25.

3. Get a Full Insurance

Renting a car always comes with a risk.

Even though driving in Faro is a safe and enjoyable experience, and most rental companies also offer basic collision waiver coverage (CDW) on their rentals, I still recommend getting full insurance coverage.

The few extra dollars it’ll cost to upgrade your insurance to full coverage is well worth your money; it covers you against a lot of scenarios, and you can get it for very cheap. 

SUV on the road during sunset
Photo from Canva

4. Compare prices & offers between car hire companies

While we’re on the topic of spending extra dollars, I should also tell you how to avoid doing that when it’s not necessary.

It’s simple; you can save a lot of money on your rental by comparing prices between different companies.

Check what each one is offering at the base rate and if there are additional charges.

One good way to do that is by using a service like Discover Cars, which lets you compare prices between tons of rentals and dodge hidden charges.

I use it all the time, so you will see more mentions of Discover Cars throughout this post.

A small road that leads to Faro
Road to Faro – Photo from Canva

5. Check your car rental agreement

I can’t stress this enough – you need to check your rental agreement, even if it feels tedious and boring!

The document has information about so many things you need to be aware of, and understanding its terms helps you avoid paying any extra fees.

Pay attention to the things I’m mentioning below.

🗎 Payment terms

Carefully review the payment terms when renting a car, as they can differ based on the rental company and car model of your choosing.

Most rentals require a deposit during booking, which is usually refunded at the end of the rental period.

Companies also require a credit card on file for potential additional charges, such as fuel, mileage, or damage.

Check the payment terms mentioned on your car rental agreement to make sure you know all these details about the payment terms before confirming.

🗎 Cancellation policy

The cancellation policy of your car rental is also an important factor.

Your rental agreement should have the cancellation policy outlined on it, so make sure you’re getting a good one.

Try to find a rental with free cancellation on offer, which means you can cancel without losing any money if you need to.

Also, renting a car at least a few weeks in advance is how you get the best deals, so getting to cancel for free if you find a better deal later is always a pro.

This is another reason why Discover Cars is a good option because all the car rentals on it offer free cancellation.

🗎 Free or controlled mileage

The rental agreement also outlines the mileage options you can choose from, which will decide the base rent of your car.

If you go with controlled mileage, you will get cheaper prices but you can’t drive more than a set number of miles per day (usually around 60 miles).

Controlled mileage is a good choice if you don’t plan on driving a lot, but it can backfire if you go over the daily limit.

Carefully consider your itinerary and then decide whether or not to choose controlled mileage.

An agent handing over the car keys to the customer
Photo from Canva

🗎 Fuel management

Just like the mileage, car rentals also have a fuel management clause on their agreements.

This decides if you will return the car with an empty tank or a full tank. I recommend choosing the full tank option because it costs less.

But make sure you do return the car with a full tank, otherwise, there will be a surcharge.

Just ask the rental company about the nearest gas station when picking up your car and get it refueled from there when you come back to return it.

🗎 Additional driver

One more thing to look out for is the additional driver policy. This is related to the insurance coverage of your rental car.

By default, the insurance only applies to the primary renter; so it won’t cover any damage or crashes if someone else was driving the car when they happened.

If you’re planning on taking a long road trip in Algarve, and will be taking turns driving, it’s a good idea to mention additional drivers.

Usually, there is an extra fee for each additional driver you mention.

Lighthouse in Canva
Lighthouse in Faro – Photo from Canva

6. Rent a car with a credit card insurance

If your credit card provider offers vehicle insurance, chances are good that you can also use your credit card coverage while renting a car in Faro.

This way, you won’t need to buy insurance from the car rental. Just make sure to check the car you’re renting is covered.

Sounds convenient, right?

It is convenient, but there are a couple of things to keep in mind.

First, you won’t get the CDW coverage provided by the rental. And second, you will have to pay the rental for any damages out of pocket before getting reimbursed later.

This is why I still recommend getting the full insurance coverage provided by the rental company.

7. Inspect your vehicle’s condition before driving

It’s always a good idea to check your rental car’s condition carefully when you go to collect it.

This way, you will avoid paying for any damages that were already there.

Because sometimes, the company ends up blaming you for prior damage when you return the car.

So, just to be sure, inspect the vehicle and take pictures of any damage you see on your phone.

They will also give you a copy of the damage report when collecting the car; read it carefully to make sure all the scratches and stuff are mentioned on it and keep it handy when returning the car.

a small roundabout in Faro with a statue in the middle
Manuel Bivar Garden, Faro – Photo from Canva

8. Drive on the right-hand side of the road

If you’re coming from the UK or a similar country where people drive on the left-hand side of the road, you better get some practice driving on the opposite side.

Because in Faro and the rest of Portugal, people drive on the right-hand side of the road – just like in the US.

9. Use your GPS navigation (Google Maps)

Getting around in Algarve is fairly easy, and Faro is no exception.

Google Maps work really well in the region, so all you need is a local or international SIM card for internet connectivity.

Your car rental will also offer a GPS for an extra fee, but Google Maps works just fine in my opinion.

10. The roads are excellent

Not only navigation, but the roads themselves are also really nice in Faro and its surroundings.

Both the newer freeways and the older national and local roads are in flawless condition, so driving on them is a really nice experience.

The only difference between the two is that the freeways have tolls and offer a higher speed limit.

They are indicated with “AE” signs and are considered a fast and convenient way to move around in Portugal.

The national and local roads are indicated with “N”, “IP”, and “IC” signs respectively and have varying speed limits lower than the freeways.

Both the national and local roads pass through populated areas at places, which is why you have to be extra careful about the speed limit changes on them.

I have mentioned the general speed limits for each below, so you can use that as a starter guide.

view of  a street in the old district in Faro
Old District in Faro – Photo from Canva

11. Use of Toll Roads (Electric Toll system)

Speaking of tolls on the freeways, the electronic system used in Portugal can be a bit confusing if you’re not familiar with it.

The toll amount is calculated based on the distance you drove on a toll road, but there are no physical tickets on the electronic toll roads.

The electronic toll system uses a technology called SCUTS, which only captures your license plate using cameras on the freeways and you have to pay your toll at a post office or pay shop within 5 days of it.

These roads are marked with blue signs featuring three bars resembling a wifi symbol pointing down at a car.

Sounds tricky and complicated, right? That’s why Via Verde devices are so popular in Portugal.

These are electronic transponders that you can use to pay your electronic tolls on the go without having to visit a payshop or post office.

Pretty much all the rentals in Portugal offer Via Verde devices as an extra, so I recommend getting one when booking your rental car.

The car hire will bill your credit card for all the tools you accumulate, which will save you a lot of time and hassle.

12. Book your rental car in advance

This one is really important because booking a car in advance has lots of pros.

Car rentals in Faro charge higher rates if you book just a few days before the pick-up date – almost double compared to booking a week or so in advance, in some cases!

Also, if you want to find yourself an automatic in Faro, you will need to book at least a couple weeks in advance, because only a handful of automatic cars are available at rentals.

Ideally, book your rental car a month in advance.

If you’re worried you will lose money by booking too much in advance and then needing to cancel later, you can just use Discover Cars.

You can compare and find the best cars for unbeatable prices there, and the free cancellation policy means you can book as early in advance as you like.

Car standing on the side of the road
Photo from Canva

13. Car rentals are cheaper in the shoulder season

When tourist activity lowers in Portugal, the prices of car rentals also go down.

So, If you want to find pocket-friendly rates on car rentals, the best time for it is the shoulder season months (April – May and September – October).

This is when prices go as low as half the usual, so I recommend making your reservation during these months.

14. Parking is mostly paid

It’s not like free parking is a myth in Faro, but you will have a hard time finding free spots as parking is paid for in most of the places.

Street parking means using coin-operated meters that issue tickets that are usually valid for only two hours, so you will have to renew your ticket every two hours when parking on the street.

If you need to park overnight, you can either stay at a hotel that provides private parking or use a parking garage.

Parking garages offer paid parking that you can use anytime, but you won’t have to renew every two hours – they just charge you a fee based on how long you parked there.

View of the city walls in faro with big yellow building
City walls in Faro – Photo from Canva

15. Gas stations are everywhere

Along with excellent roads and GPS functionality, the convenience of having gas stations every few miles on the road is what makes driving in this region of Portugal a pleasant experience.

You will spot a gas station every 25 miles or so on the roads of the Algarve.

That being said, you just need to keep in mind that the words for gasoline (gasolina) and diesel (gasóleo) are quite similar and might trip a foreigner off – so make sure you know which kind of fuel goes into your rental car and remember the correct name for it.

16. Speed limits

So, I was telling you about the different speed limits on the roads of Portugal. They’re as follows.

👉🏽 Freeways: minimum 31 miles per hour (50 km/h) and maximum 75 miles per hour (120 km/h)

👉🏽 National roads: 56-62 miles per hour (90-100 km/h)

👉🏽 Local roads: 30 miles per hour (50 km/h)

The speed limit on freeways is as mentioned, but you might notice slight changes on local roads near populated areas.

I have mentioned the general speed limits on those, but keep an eye out for any changes and adjust your speed accordingly when driving on national and local roads.

Four people driving in a red car
Photo from Canva

17. Follow Faro traffic rules

This is an obvious one, but I’m still mentioning it because there are some rules in Faro that you might not know of.

These include the Via Verde lanes on freeways that can only be used by cars with electronic transponders for tolls.

They’re marked with a “V” sign on them. But just because you have a Via Verde device doesn’t mean you can’t use any other lane.

Also, there are different road signs that you should familiarize yourself with.

You can visit Wikipedia for Portugal road signs to get a good idea of the signage used in Faro and its surrounding region.

Seat belts are also mandatory for every passenger, including the ones in the back seats, so that’s something to keep in mind if you don’t want to get fined.

You also can’t use your phone while driving even if you’re just using a hands-free device for it.

18. Dropping off and returning your rental car

Dropping off your rental car is very straightforward and simple.

All you need to do is make sure you return it without any damage and a full tank (unless you went with the full-empty fuel option when booking).

You can return your car to the same place you picked it up from, but rental companies also let you drop it off at different locations in Portugal as well.

The latter will just cost you extra based on the distance between the original pick-up point and your drop-off location.

Honestly, you wouldn’t need to select a different drop-off location in most cases. But if you do, use Discover Cars to find out the exact fee for it and make sure it fits your budget.

Best Car Rental Deals w/ Free Cancellation, Compare & Save! | Discover Cars

Find the best car rental deals and explore around freely, at your own pace. My favorite way to enjoy a destination!

Also, one more thing is that you need to drop your car off before the 24-hour cycle completes.

Meaning, you shouldn’t even delay it an hour more than the agreed-upon time, or else it will count as an extra day.

So be sure to keep that in mind and try to drop off an hour or two early.

A woman holding car keys
Photo from Canva

Should you rent a car in Faro Portugal?

Renting a car in Faro is pretty easy, but that doesn’t mean you will need one.

You won’t need a car if you’re just staying in Faro, because you can basically walk wherever you like in town, and then there are also public transport options.

On the other hand, if you’re planning on visiting other parts of the Algarve region, which I really recommend you should, then getting a car rental is one of the best things you can do.

Oh, and budget also plays a role, so if you want to keep things frugal, I recommend using public transport to get from one city to another as well.

👉🏻 Can foreigners drive in Portugal?

They can, in most cases.

Because citizens from countries like the US and Canada only need a valid driver’s license to drive in Portugal if they’re staying for less than a year.

You can also drive here with any EU driver’s license.

However, there of course are some exceptions to this based on your country of origin. So you should check if you will also need an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive here.

But yeah, foreigners can drive in Portugal as long as they have the required documents.

old house in Faro covered with pink flowers
Old house in Faro – Photo from Canva

👉🏻 Is it safe to rent a car in Faro?

Yeah, it absolutely is. Faro is a major tourist destination in Portugal, so renting a car here is a safe and enjoyable experience.

What’s more, the roads throughout the region are in excellent condition, so that’s another plus. 

👉🏻 Is driving in Faro easy?

As long as you know how to drive (which I hope you do since you’re renting a car), driving in Faro won’t be a problem.

As I said earlier, the roads here are really nice, and traffic rules are also easy to follow – which makes driving in Faro and the rest of Portugal a pleasant experience.

👉🏻 Is there any scamming when renting a car in Faro?

You won’t have to worry about getting scammed as long as you’re renting from a trusted car hire in Algarve, like Discover Cars.

But if you’re renting from anywhere else, there is one thing you need to be careful about.

Some rental companies blame prior damage on you if you don’t pay attention to the damage report and the car when collecting it.

So make sure you check the car before collecting it and note down/take pictures of all the scratches and damage you see, and get it included on the damage report as well.

Street in Faro with two stories old buildings
Old Town Faro – Photo from Canva

👉🏻 How much does it cost to rent a car in Faro?

Renting a car in Faro isn’t that expensive, but there are many factors that can affect the overall cost.

The time of year is one of the biggest factors, as prices are at their peak during the high season but significantly lower during the shoulder season.

Below, I’m listing some other things that impact the cost of renting a car in Faro.

👉🏽 Type of car: The base rate of your rental car will depend on the type of car you’re renting. Also, most cars in Portugal are manual, so going for an automatic costs more as well.

👉🏽 Insurance coverage: Though some companies include basic coverage in the standard rent of a car, getting insurance coverage also costs extra – especially if you get full coverage (which I recommend you do).

👉🏽 Additional driver(s): Your purchased insurance coverage only applies while you’re driving the car, but you can include additional drivers on your rental agreement to include them in the coverage as well. This will cost a small extra fee.

👉🏽 Driver’s age: Believe it or not, car rentals in Faro and the rest of Portugal quote different prices to you depending on your age. Say, if you’re below 25 years of age, you will probably have to pay a higher rate.

👉🏽 Different drop-off point: If you’re returning a rental car to a different location than where you picked it up from, the car hire company will charge you a fee based on how far the drop-off location is from the pick-up point.

👉🏽 Extras: Car rentals offer add-ons like GPS, Via Verde devices, baby seats etc., and including any of those with your rental car will mean paying a little extra and increasing the overall cost.

👉🏽 Time of reservation: Prices are lower based on the travel season, but the days between your reservation and the time of pick-up you choose also have an impact on the price. For example, if you’re booking a car for the next day, you might end up paying way higher compared to booking a week in advance.

If you weigh these things carefully and book well in advance, you can save a lot of money while renting a car in Faro.

And you should also use Discover Cars to compare prices, find the best deals, and avoid hidden charges.

Coastal Road in Portugal
Photo from Canva

Recommended car rentals in Faro

You can never go wrong with Discover Cars when renting a car in Faro.

The service lets you compare prices between a wide range of rentals, which means you will get the best bang for your buck.

And there are also no hidden fees or cancellation charges on Discover Cars, so that’s another good thing about it. All in all, it’s the one I recommend.

📌 Should I rent a car at Faro Airport or in town?

If you’re taking a plane to Faro, going with a car rental at Faro Airport Portugal is the better choice.

It means you can conveniently drive to the city and then drop the car rental back at the airport before you leave via plane again.

If you’re thinking it’ll save you money to rent a car in town, then that’s not the case.

Because the price difference between a car hire at Faro airport and a rental in town isn’t much, if any.

Still, you can compare them using Discover Cars and decide based on your budget.

An aeroplane in Faro airport.
Faro Airport – Photo from Canva

🏆 Best car hire at Faro Airport

You will find many options when looking for a reliable Faro airport car hire company, so deeming any one of them the best won’t be fair.

But you can choose the one that suits your needs by comparing their prices and offers.

You can easily do that using Discover Cars because it has all the reputable Faro car rentals featured on it.

Places to visit around Faro Portugal

There are many places to visit near Faro where you can travel by car.

I recommend taking a drive to at least a few of them because they’re all really gorgeous and add to the memorable experience of vacationing in the Algarve.

Aerial view of Faro City Centre
Photo from Canva

✔️ Ferragudo

Located just an hour’s drive from Faro, along the Arade River, the fishing village of Ferragudo is the perfect place to hit up if you’re after stunning beaches surrounded by cliffs and complemented with historic charm and beauty.

The village features white-washed cottages, charming streets, and landmarks dating back to the medieval era.

You can enjoy strolling around its street, going on boat trips, and visiting the famous fort here.

The beaches are also really great and uncrowded, and you can go swimming with exotic marine life here as well.

If you’re in Faro, I highly recommend making the trip to Ferragudo.

✔️ Lagos

Just a little ahead of Ferragudo, Lagos is another great destination you can visit in the Algarve from Faro.

This is where you will find similar white-washed cottages, gorgeous beaches with cliffs surrounding them, historic landmarks, and the same charming vibe of Ferragudo.

But Lagos also has a very trendy nightlife scene that gives it a vibrant touch.

Then there are also the amazing restaurants and bars of the city that make it all the more lively. All in all, it’s definitely worth visiting.

Coast in Lagos with view of bridge between rocks
Lagos, Faro – Photo from Canva

✔️ Tavira

Tavira is another charming city just a short distance from Faro and worth seeing for a variety of reasons.

The city is rich in history, offering a unique mix of Portuguese and Moorish elements in its architecture, and features breathtaking beaches as well; which is why it’s a really famous day-trip destination from Faro.

✔️ Loulé

The coastal destinations of the Algarve are unparalleled, but if you’re looking for something different and yet just as unforgettable, the town of Loulé is just the place for you.

This off-the-beaten-path destination offers a historic fort, striking sights, and delightful foods all in one place.

The drive to Loulé takes only 20 minutes from Faro, so I highly recommend taking a trip to it if you have a car; you won’t regret spending some quality time away from the buzz of city life.

✔️ Albufeira

I have mentioned an off-the-beaten-path destination, so I should mention a popular destination close to Faro as well – and Albufeira is just the spot.

It’s one of the most popular tourist cities in the region and boasts stunning beaches, water sports, and a vibrant nightlife scene.

Located on the road going to Ferragudo, Albufeira is only a short distance from Faro, which means you can easily visit it by car whenever you’re in the mood for a day trip filled with lots of thrill and adventure.

Albufeira Faro overview
Albufeira, Faro – Photo from Canva

Frequently Asked Questions About Renting a Car in Faro

Is it easy to rent a car in Faro Portugal?

Yup, it’s fairly easy to rent a car in Faro, because it only takes a valid driver’s license, a photo ID/passport, and a credit card.

You might also need an International Driving Permit (IDP), but that’s not a requirement in most cases.

You can book a car rental at Faro airport, in the town, or you can just go to a trusted site like Discover Cars and find yourself the perfect car at the best available price in the market. 

Why is car hire in Faro so expensive?

Car hire is not very expensive in Faro, but you might find higher rates depending on the travel season, the type of car, and how close your pick-up date is.

There are also other things, like the kind of insurance coverage you selected and if the drop-off location is different from the pick-up point.

You might also end up paying hidden charges in some cases, but those are easily avoidable with a trusted rental.

You can also save a lot of money by researching all those things beforehand and using a comparison site like Discover Cars to find the best rates on the car you want.

Buildings in Tavira
Tavira, Faro – Photo from Canva

Are there Ubers in Faro?

There definitely are Ubers in Faro. You can use the service all across town, and there are also pick-up and drop-off points of Uber at the airport.

Is it hard to drive in Faro?

Not at all. Driving in Faro and the rest of the Algarve is a really enjoyable experience.

You will like the flawless roads here, and the traffic rules are straightforward as well.

The city is fairly small, so traffic isn’t an issue, and parking spaces are available aplenty everywhere you go.

Just one thing, though. A not-so-straightforward traffic rule in Faro is that pedestrians have the right of way here.

This means that you need to be careful and drive slowly when there are people around because they might just waltz in front of your car to cross the road, so it’s something to be wary of.

Overview of beaches near Ferragudo
Ferragudo, Faro – Photo from Canva

Is it better to rent a car in the Algarve?

In my opinion, you won’t regret renting a car in Algarve. Doing so will let you explore it better and visit so many charming destinations at your own pace.

But you can also manage without a car if you’re just staying in one place, like Faro, or by using public transport to get from one place to another when you’re on a budget.

Is it easy to get around the Algarve without a car?

It is. You can use public transport to get from one city to another.

Trains connect most of the major cities in the Algarve with each other and buses will take you to towns where there are no train stations.

But then again, it’s not as convenient as having a car and driving to wherever you like.

Close up of person driving a car with hands on steering wheel
Photo from Canva

How many days in Faro is enough?

I recommend staying here for at least 3 days. But that’s just enough to enjoy its top attractions and activities, so if you want to explore it thoroughly, you can stay for a week or more too.

And staying for longer means you can even visit nearby destinations and make your trip to Faro even more unforgettable.

How do you get around Faro without a car?

If you want to get around Faro without a car, I’d recommend walking.

The city is truly walkable, and there are also plenty of sights to see – so taking a stroll through it is a pleasant experience.

But if you have luggage or just don’t feel like walking, you can also use public transport or call an Uber.

Aerial view of Albufeira Beach
Albufeira Beach – Photo from Canva

Final Thoughts: Things to Know Before Renting a Car in Faro

That’s it for the 18 things to know before renting a car in Faro! Now you can decide whether or not you will need a car in Faro and how to go about renting one.

Keeping these tips in mind will help you make the most of your Faro trip, as you will be able to conveniently rent a car and plan the perfect itinerary. Have fun exploring!